In the age of the Internet, we have a unique opportunity: the ability to surround ourselves with people who think the exact same thing that we do. On social media and our news feeds, we can create virtual bubbles of friends and followers we relate to.
In some ways, this is awesome! Social media makes it super easy to connect with folks that might be harder to find in our actual communities. My own favorite online community is made up of bloggers, book lovers, and blogging book lovers. Talking about blogs in real life can sometimes earn me some side-eye, but here, it’s one thing we all share and love.
However, it also makes it easy to isolate yourself. This can be harmful when it comes to some beliefs, like politics and religion. Online communities that only accept a certain rhetoric can close your mind to other valid options and alienate you from the rest of the world. Social media can exacerbate and polarize beliefs that could be tolerable in real life.
My sister and I talked about that briefly today. We both clean out our friends list on Facebook periodically. She and I both like to keep it pared down to people we would actually speak to if we saw them in real life. People we wouldn’t speak to get chopped.
There’s a few people I keep on there, though, simply because they post a lot about viewpoints that differ from mine. Sometimes I think I keep them because I enjoy feeling righteously outraged. But I also think it’s important to remind myself that I know a lot of people with very different worldviews than mine.
A few days ago, the New York Times published these interviews of young people who attended a conservative leadership conference in DC. The NYT leans liberal, but I liked the article, because it helped me understand some of the thought process behind why these particular young people believe what they believe. Everywhere else I looked, however, people were complaining that the NYT gave a voice to conservatives. A lot of commenters would rather the article had not been written at all.
That’s the main complaint I hear about the NYT. I haven’t been reading it very long, so I don’t know much of its reporting history, but people seem to hate it because they make an effort to write articles from many political viewpoints, even when those viewpoints are extreme. I think that’s a sign of good reporting. I don’t want to see news from media who only report one viewpoint (why do you think I don’t watch Fox?). All media is going to be biased, because we’re only human, but actively acknowledging viewpoints that don’t align with your own is healthy. It keeps our minds more open.
That’s why I try to keep my social media fairly mixed. Could I be doing a better job of that? Always. It would be much nicer to isolate myself in a liberalish bubble where I can always feel like I’m right. But in a country whose biggest problem is arguably our extreme partisanship, that’s just not going to do much good at all.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you try to keep your news and social media mixed? Is there anything about which you wouldn’t entertain an opposing opinion?